Curated by Valerio Del Bagliv, Michele Bertolino (Junior Curator)
Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo hosts the third appointment of The Institute of Things to Come, with an exhibition and a workshop by the artist Tai Shani . Founded in 2017, The Institute of Things to Come is a traveling curatorial program that investigates forms of speculative imagination as cultural strategies through a cycle of exhibitions, performances and an educational program. The theme of 2018/19 TERRA INCOGNITA is inspired by the sociologist Albert Meister's book, Under the Beaubourg (1976), in which the author describes the existence of an imaginary museum beneath the original, which functions as a pole of counterculture. This reference is the starting point for reflecting on the existence of fictitious territories invented by artists, metaphorical or literary landscapes in which forms of subversion, anti-authoritarianism, utopia and elements of fantasy come together.
The artist Tai Shani exhibits, for the first time in an Italian institution, a chapter of his Dark Continent project: the installation episode DC: PSY CHIC ANEM ONE produced by The Institute of Things to Come and previously presented at the Athens Biennale 2018. Tai Shani's multidisciplinary practice, which includes performance, film, photography and installation, focuses on the production of experimental narrative texts. These alternate between known narrative plots and structures and theoretical prose to explore forms of construction of subjectivity, manifestations of excess and affective expressions as well as the epic genre as a ground for the development of a post-patriarchal realism.
Over the past four years, Tai Shani has developed a body of work titled Dark Continent, which takes its cue from Christine de Pizan's 1405 proto-feminist text, The Book of the City of Ladies, to materialize an allegorical city inhabited only by women. The project has been replicated through performances, installations and films of monological texts all autonomous but interconnected with each other, representing the various characters of the text, in various institutions including Nottingham Contemporary (Nottingham), De La Warr Pavilion (Bexhill), The Tetley (Leeds), Wysing Art Center (Cambridge), Tramway - Glasgow International (Glasgow), The Serpentine Galleries (London), and Hayward Gallery (London). The work imagines an alternative story that favors sensation, experience and interiority, to examine the concept of feminine not as “female” but as a sort of radical otherness. In this city, fictional characters live side by side with figures drawn from feminist history (including, among others, The Neanderthal Hermaphrodite, The Medieval Mystic, The Vampyre, Phantasmagoregasm, Paradise and Sirens), transforming into monologues to test the potential feminist politics and questioning gender norms and constructs. In Turin Tai Shani presents Psy Chic Anem One an Artificial Intelligence traveling through time that can communicate between past, present and future: their immateriality is expressed through a woman's voice that recalls divinations and oracular prophecies.
Going beyond any narrative structure, the timeless city of Tai Shani invents a new cosmology that is placed between myth and history, alternative universe and mysticism, to exaggerate the standards of femininity, confuse every category of eroticism and annihilate all hierarchical structures.
Finally, the artist conducts the workshop entitled Veronica in collaboration with the artist Aura Satz for our Associates 2018/19 (Josephine Baan, Emma Brasó, Emily Fitzell, Constantinos Taliotis, Jérôme de Vienne, Stephanie Winter). Inspired by the story of Saint Veronica who wiped the blood and sweat of Christ with the Sudarium, the workshop seeks to explore multiple manifestations of traces that create lesions between the material and the imaginary world.